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Speak Your Music

Artist Focus on Sarah Elizabeth Charles

Lesson Two: My Musical Brainstorm

Sarah demonstrates how she creates a musical foundation for her new piece, and then shapes a melody on top of that foundation.

Your First Assignment

  1. Watch the video in which Sarah describes the way she starts to shape the musical setting of her original lyrics.
  2. Note how she uses repeated phrases, layers, and rhythms to create a foundation for melodic experimentation before she shapes a melody to go over the foundation.
  3. Listen to the recording of yourself speaking your lyrics in rhythm.
  4. Start by asking yourself what you think is the right tempo and mood for a song based on your lyrics.
  5. Using your phone or an online digital audio workstation (DAW) like SoundTrap, start creating some vocal ideas for you to layer on top of each other into a musical foundation.

Your Second Assignment

  1. Play your musical foundation and start experimenting with different shapes for your melody by going up and down in pitch.
  2. When you find something you like, repeat it so that you remember it and see if it sounds good to you.
  3. Try recording your melody using your phone or an online digital audio workstation (DAW) like SoundTrap.

Explore Other Parts of Speak Your Music

Introduction | Express Yourself

Mazz Swift, Clay Ross, and Sarah Elizabeth Charles share their backgrounds and processes for creating music.

Artist Focus on Mazz Swift | Lesson One: Finding a Theme

Mazz shares her distinct approach to using improvisation as a way of generating musical ideas to use in composition.

Artist Focus on Mazz Swift | Lesson Two: Tweaking, Tinkering, and Messing with Your Music

Mazz shares her recommendations for manipulating and organizing basic musical ideas in order to explore different compositional approaches.

Artist Focus on Mazz Swift | Lesson Three: Finished! For Now …

This video features the questions that Mazz uses to determine whether a piece of music is done or requires further editing.

Artist Focus on Clay Ross | Lesson One: Building a Frame

Clay introduces his band Ranky Tanky and talks about the origins of their song “All For You.”

Artist Focus on Clay Ross | Lesson Two: Making It Yours

Clay breaks down how he used source material from the Gullah tradition and West African music to create his original song.

Artist Focus on Clay Ross | Lesson Three: A Life of Its Own

Clay explores how “All For You” evolved into new shapes as Ranky Tanky collaborated with other artists.

Artist Focus on Sarah Elizabeth Charles | Lesson One: My Big Idea

Sarah describes how she uses a big question to spark the idea for a new song that explores the relationship between all human beings.

Artist Focus on Sarah Elizabeth Charles | Lesson Three: Growing My Idea

Sarah explains how her collaboration with a musical friend helped to shape the final version of her new piece.

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